tv CNN Newsroom CNN November 22, 2013 10:00am-11:01am PST
thanks for your company here on "around the world." we're going to land it off to wolf blitzer for now though. wolf blitzer for now though. thank you. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com i'm wolf blitzer in washington. i want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. it was 50 years ago during this exact an hour a beloved american president cut down in his prime leaving a nation shocked and grief stricken. in dallas this hour, a solemn ceremony marks the 50th anniversary of president john f. kennedy's assassination. the images are etched in our collective memories. the president and the first lady in the open top limousine. the motorcade making its way toward dealey plaza. no signs of the tragedy about to unfold. today, the crowd gathered in dealey plaza. it will pause for a moment of silence at 12:30 p.m..local time, that's 1:30 p.m. eastern the moment the shots rang out. we're going to have live
coverage of the ceremony. earlier today, members of the kennedy family held a wrea wreath-laying ceremony in arlington national cemetery. leading an the family, jean kennedy smith, jfk's last surviving sibling. we have a team of correspondences, authors, commentators here with us throughout this hour. they'll share their reflections on the assassination and the anniversary as well as the legacy of president kennedy. we want to start with the investigative reporter gerald posner, the historian david kaiser, both in watertown, massachusetts right now. correspondence ed lavandera is standing by as is our own john king. give us a quick thought, gerald. let's start with you. this is the hour testifies shot exactly 50 years ago today. >> wolf every minute that pas as we're talking right now, there is something taking place 50 years ago in the setup to the
assassination. just a few minutes ago, three of oswald's coworkers in the texas school book depository decided to go downstairs for lunch. one of them said are you coming along to him? he said no, send the elevator back up and they went down. then the next few minutes as the president's coming down main street, it's lee harvey oswald taking some boxes and starting to form the sniper's nest that police will find after the assassination. so the leadup to 12:30 when the president is killed is filled with the time for the preparation, for the killing by oswald. we're passing those every moment as we're speaking right now. >> david kaiser, give me a quick thought as begin our special coverage this hour. you spent a lot of time academiciancally studying this moment. >> well, i did. and i had written a book about kennedy and johnson in vietnam during the 1990s, and then came the big release of documentation thanks to the jfk records act which gave me the opportunity to
look into the assassination. i do agree with gerald posner that will oswald killed the president. i think he did it on behalf of organized crime but it took a long time to understand that because we had to understand the context which involved robert kennedy's war on organized crime and the ways in which they were thinking about retaliating and certain links and connections that oswald and ruby had and so on. i laid that out as thoroughly as i could years ago in "the road to dallas." we'll get to that later this hour. i want to go to john king right now on the scene for us in dallas. you're there with ed lavandera, our long-time dallas correspondent. john, i know you grew up in boston. the jtfk assassination 50 years ago this hour had a really powerful impact especially on folks in massachusetts, his home state. >> certainly, wolf, the
kennedys -- it was camelot. the kennedys had been and were, bobby kennedy was a senator from the state of new york, but the kennedy family was the royal family of massachusetts for some time. i was a week shy of 39 months when kennedy was assassinated. my mother used to tell me about that day in the house about sitting on her lap when she was watching the television reports of that day. and if you grew up in boston, the kennedys were legend. a lot of the irish catholic households i grew up in, if you walked into the front hallway or kitchen, there would be a picture of jesus christ and jack kennedy. that's the way it was in the neighborhood growing up. it's interesting to be here on this many special day, an i a somber day as you noted. we're now just moments away from 12:30 when the motorcade rolled into the plaza and legal oswald shot the president. >> 25 minutes from now would be the exact moment 50 years ago.
ed, you've lived in dallas for a long time. the city has struggled in dealgh the assassination. they're doing something very different today. explain what's about to happen. >> it's interesting listening to john's perspective having grown up in the northeast. i grew up in dallas and have come to dealey plaza since i was a little kid. this is a city that has struggled deeply with how to handle the situation. i think the fact it's taken 50 years for the city of it dallas to do al official event liking this kind i have speaks volumes to that. in in fact, there are conspiracy theorists would gather on the grassy knoll and observe the moments ef silence, they're the ones that would put the x on the roadway which the city of dallas earlier this week paved over. they said they didn't want people tripping on the roadway. a lot of peopl tnk they didn't want people seeing the gruesome nature. they don't want people talking about the actual gruesomeness of that assassination. they want people talking about
the legacy and what kennedy meant to this country. >> yeah. we're going to be eyewitness ths to this 50th anniversary hour. our coverage is only beginning. we'll go back to dallas for the emotional ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of president kennedy's assassination. also, we'll take a closer look at how americans feel today about jfk. also, we'll take a closer look ♪
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over at the white house, flags already at half-staff in memory of the late president of the united states. this moment of silence will will be a powerful moment of silence all across the country, indeed around the world. you can't overstate the affection the american people have more president kennedy. just take a look at this brand new cnn/orc poll. it shows 90% of americans todayed approve of the way he handled his job as president. no other past president even comes close. ronald reagan places second with 78%, followed by bill clinton who got 74% approval rating. at the bottom of the list george w. bush with 4%. richard nixon had the lowest score, 31%. let's bring back more of our panel in miami, the investigative journalist gerald posner and historian david kaiser joins us from watertown,
massachusetts. let me get bowing of your reaction. jerald, can first to you, this unbelievable approval rating for the late president. what do you make of that? >> it's because kennedy was all about the unfulfilled promise of what his presidency would have been. cut down only 2 1/2 years into his presidency. everybody looks and says if he had stayed for another 5 1/2 it, 6 1/2 years he would have done civil rights like lbj, ended veet fam on a quick note. that's what we thought at that time. that's the hope that was cut down by the assassin's bullet. >> 90% approval is unbelievable, when you think about it, david. historians at the time, journalists, folks at the time, certainly nowhere near that kind of approval. but 50 years later, people look back and obviously like him and admire him. >> well, i think he stands for his generation. the gi generation, the greatest generation. he stands for a different time.
american politics and in american life which in many i was now looks like an acge of innocence in which we all shared a belief in the ideals of america both at home and abroad. he embodied that. he desperately wanted to make peace in the cold war. and he took some big steps towards doing that. at the same time, he wanted to find new national enterprises that we could go on that would make us proud and bring us together. and the moon program was the best example of that. i think there is a sense that in some ways at least we have not had as capable a president as him in the years since. and again, i think that the nostalgia for him among people your age and mine and older, wolf, is that he represents an america when our political system worked much better than it does now, when the nation had
common values to a certain extent that it does not have now and when we could solve problems in a way we're having a great deal of difficulty doing now. >> the color guard -- i just want to tell viewers what they're seeing. color guard with bagpipes entering dealey plaza for this memorial service at the bottom of the hour once again, there will be that moment of silence. david mccould you la will read from some of the more memorable moments of president kennedy's speeches, as well. we have a lot to look forward fop i want to bring jeff greenefield into this conversation. our old friend has written an amazing new book entitled "if kennedy had lived." you learn a great deal about what potentially, jeff, could have happened. give us a thought or two right now as we remember this hour, 50 years ago exactly when he was shot and killed. >> well, i think everybody will remember vividly where they were. the only comparable moment in recent american history would
have been 9/11. for me i was at the university of wisconsin where i edited the college newspaper. one of the things that's important to remember is how literally unbelievable it was at a time when public violence was far less prevalent than it later became. it was a less violent media. >> jeff, hold on for a molt. they're singing the national anthem. i want to make sure we listen to it. >> sure ♪ and the rockets' red glare the bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ gave proof through the night that our flag was still there ♪ ♪ oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ o'er the land of the free ♪
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rawlings is speaking >> taken from us. taken from his family, taken from the world. john fitzgerald kennedy's presidency, his life and yes, his death, seemed to myth logically usher in the next 50 years. what ensued was five decades filled with other tragedies. turmoil, and great triumphs. we were all very young. our lives in front of us. dallas was very young, as well, barely a century old. and given the nature of youth, we all felt envincible. well, it seems that we all grew up that day. city and citizens. and suddenly, we had to step up to trying to live up to the
challenges of the words and visions of a beloved president. our collective hearts were broken. like so many of us who were too young to fully comprehend, i remember being called into the school gymnasium, hearing the terrible news and told to go home. stunned civic leaders at the trade mart luncheon awaited a president who would never arrive. crowds prayed outside parkland hospital. traffic stopped in cities across the country as news spread from car to car. and the world grieved with us. newspapers reported that flags were lowered to half-staff around the globe. germans on both sides of the berlin wall placed lit candles in their windows. an 8-year-old nigerian girl recited the entire inaugural
address from memory as her father wept just like the skies today. well, the past is never in the past. this was a lifetime ago. now, today, we the people of dallas honor the life, legacy and leadership of the man who called us to think not of our own interests, but of our country's. we give thanks for his life and his service. we offer condolences to his mily, esplly h daughter carolin. we pay tribute to an idealist without illusions who helped build a more just and equal world. we salute a commander in chief who stared down a nuclear threat to this country. we praise a writer who profiled
true courage and modeled it himself. we applaud a visionary who created a core of young americans to promote peace around the globe. we stand in awe of a dreamer who challenged us to literally reach for the moon, though he himself would not live to see us achieve that goal. other goals were even tougher. have taken longer to reach. and we the united states still struggle towards some even as we speak. as do we here in dallas. but we're fortified by the knowledge that we have always had big goals and big aspirations in this city. set by our founding fathers like john nili brian and george dealy, the namesake of this plaza. reenergized by mayor eric johnson, the mayor who led
dallas in the post assassination years. these five decades have seen us turn civic heartbreak into hard work. they've seen us go from youthful invincibility to existential vulnerability to greater maturity as a city and a community. on the one-year anniversary of the assassination, the late rabbi eli -- levi ohland of temple emanueiman iman yell, ga voice to dal lease's communal pain unleashed on that day. rabbi ohland said then "contrary to the impassioned judgment of that horrible moment, the city is not guilty of the crime. but in those awesome days following the assassination, the most powerful searchlight man
possesses was focused on this city. every flaw, every raw spot, every were and every uncleanness was put under a microscope and shown to the world." he continued "the city of rich palaces and tall towers an of commerce were set amidst slums and hovels as the powerful light shown upon it, the city, it was learned, had been inhospitable to honorable debate." rabbi ohland captured the heartbreak and hurt the city felt. he stated playly the defects and failings that were laid bare before the entire world. but most important, he called for dallas to use this tragedy to seek a true transformation. look around today. i believe we have heeded that call. the people of the city have been
filled with a sense of industry bourn of tragedy. driven to improve the substance of dallas, not just the image of it. today, because of the hard work of many people, dallas is a different city. i believe the new frontier did not end that day on our texas frontier. and i hope that president kennedy would be pleased with our humble efforts towards fulfilling our country's highest calling. that of providing the opportunity for all citizens to exercise those inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. the city of dallas will continue on that course. the man we remember today gave us a gift that will not be squandered. he and our city will forever be linked in tragedy, yes, but out of that tragedy, an opportunity
was granted to us, the chance to learn how to face the future when it's the darkest and the most uncertain, how to hold high the torch even when the flame flickers and threatens to go out. as the people of dallas did then, each of us will meet our oncoming challenges head-on with courage, honoring, but not living in the past. and never, never flinching from the truth. we will meet the future with the same vigor, optimism, and unfailing sense of duty that our young president embodied. president kennedy brought us that message. in his pocket, down that street on november 22nd it, 1963.
that will message was to be delivered a few miles away in a speech to dallas leaders following his parade. it was a speech he never got to make. but those unspoken words resonate far beyond the life of the man to commemorate that day and those words, we are unveiling a memorial right here in this historic plaza. it is inscribed with the last lines of his undelivered speech and will serve as a reminder and a permanent monument to president kennedy's memory. i leave you with those res nat words. "we in this country, in this generation, are by destiny
rather than choice the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. we ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and our responsibility. that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of peace on earth, good will toward men." that must always be our goal and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength for as was written long ago, accept the lord, keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain. ladies and gentlemen, would you join me in a moment of silence
>> he spoke to us in that now distant time past with a vitality and sense of purpose such as we had never heard before. he was young to be president, but it didn't seem so if you were younger still. he was ambitious to make it a better world. and so were we. let the word go forth, he said, that the torch is passed to a new generation of americans. it was an exciting time. he talked of all that needed to be done, of so much that
mattered, equal opportunity, unity of purpose, education, the life of the mind and the spirit, art, poetry, service to one's country, and the courage to move forward into the future. the cause of peace on earth. his was the inspiring summons to serve, to hard work and worthy accomplishment, a summons we longed for. he was an optiimist and he said so, but there was no side stepping reality in what he said. no resorting to stale old platitudes. he spoke to the point and with confidence. he knew words matter. his words changed lives.
his words changed history. rarely has a commander in chief addressed the nation with such command of language. much that he said applies now no less than half a century ago and will continue, let us hope, to be taken to heart far into the future. gone but not forgotten is the old expression for departed heroes. but if not forgotten, they are not gone. on this day especially and at this place, let us listen again to some of what john f. kennedy said. the new frontier of which i speak is not a set of promises. it is a set of challenges.
it sums up not what i intend to offer the american people but what i intend to ask them. this nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. it was founded on the principle that all men are created equal and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. the harder -- heart of the question is whether we are going to treat our fellow americans as we want to be treated. we must educate our children as our most valuable resource. we must have trained people, many train add people. their finest talents brought to the keenest edge. we must have not only scientists, mathematicians, technicians, we must have people skilled in the humanities.
i look forward to an america which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or state craft. i look forward to an america which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization. this country cannot afford to be material little rich and spiritually poor. art is the great unifying and humanizing experience. the life of the arts far from being an interuption, a distraction in the life of a nation, is very close to the center of a nation's purpose. and it is the test of the quality of a nation's civilization. i am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our
cities, we, too, will be remembered not for our victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contributions to the human spirit. if more politicians knew poetry and more poets knew politics, i am convinced the world would be a little better place to live. when power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. when power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. when power corrupts, poetry cleanses. for art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.
together, let us explore the stars. conquer account deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths. those who came before us made certain that this country, that the role of this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution. the first waves of modern invention, the first waves of nuclear power. and this generation does not intend to founder in the back wash of the coming age of space. we mean to be part of it. we set sail on this new sea because there is to be a new knowledge gained and new rights to be won and they must be won and used for the progress of all
people. but why, some say, the moon? why choose this as our goal? we choose to go to the moon in this decade and to do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. >> powerful words from the late president of the united states as read by david mccullough, the biographer of the late president. we're going to continue our special coverage in a moment. >> one we are unwilling to postpone. start a poem. or finish a symphony. it's been to classrooms, boardrooms, even to space. and we can't wait to see where you'll take it next. introducing the thinner, lighter, more powerful ipad air.
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all of event occurred, the assassination of the president of the united states. it's a powerful moment for so many people in the united states and around the world to recall. >> well, absolutely. i think we can now say john f. kennedy's a sustainable hero and david mccullough, our great historian from massachusetts, like john f. kennedy was talking about the heroism of kennedy. i say that because after his death there was a lot of camelot literature, books by ted sorenson building up kennedy and other books came out of a different generation very critical of his personal life. but now on the 50th anniversary, not only is he coming off as a sustainable hero, the amount of love, the outpouring from love from all over america, its bipartisan and spirit. david reading those words reminds you kennedy was the greatest orator of the 20th century. you could chisel so many speeches into marble and
monuments. now there's another new monument in dallas as of today. >> gerald posner, as you reflect and we get ready for the flyover to recall and to honor the memory of the president of the united states, president john f. kennedy, this is a special moment for the city of dallas itself where this terrible tragedy occurred 50 years ago this hour. >> yeah, absolutely, wolf. dallas did it self very proud today with some serenity, a sober ceremony that was distinguished and dignified. and that's really what they wanted. this was a city that was in turmoil and filled with a lot of anger when jack kennedy arrived. a full-page ad in the newspaper greeted him calling him essentially a treen sonnyer and traitor. i think today, they did an admirable job of focusing on what they should which is the life of this man in many ways because as we're talking right
now, you bring yourself back 50 years ago, john kennedy is at parkland hospital, young doctors in their 20s, good doctors are working furiously to try to get a sign of life in him. in just another hour, jacqui kennedy who our heart goes out to because we see her with her husband is going to take an ambulance ride with four secret service agents and a brigadier general to air force one with her husband but her husband is in a casket and 20 minutes after that stands next to president johnson in stunned silence. we've seen that as he is sworn in as president. then for the entire ride back to washington, she sits in the back of the plane with the casket. there's no way you can go through the emotions of the day without wanting to turn the car around, turn the motorcade back because we know what's coming up. as a nation our heart goes out to jack kendon at entire family. dallas had just the right
approach to this. >> david kaiser is with us, as well. what do you think folks should leave with from this hour, from this special coverage, this honoring, this recalling the late president of the united states? >> well, i want to dpreel with gerald posner that the city of dallas did a wonderful job. i want to commend the mayor in particular for a very fine speech which seemds to me to be just about exactly the way john f. kennedy i think would have wanted to be remembered 50 years after his presidency, no matter how it had come to an end. it was very well done and again, i could not help feel, i said earlier that kennedy represented a different america with different values. as i heard wolf blitzer read those -- i'm sorry, as i heard david mccullough read those magnificent words, i felt that again. i hope again that younger americans listen to those words carefully and an that they will study kennedy himself because he
and his time so much embodied the virtues of which we are so desperately in need today and which we could rebuild if we began to do so. >> david, hold on for a moment. we'll take a quick break. the flayover when we come back. over the next 40 years the united states population is going to grow by over 90 million people, and almost all that growth is going to be in cities. what's the healthiest and best way for them to grow so that they really become cauldrons of prosperity and cities of opportunity?
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c concludes our program. we thank you for your attendance. >> we'hat a moving hour this ha been. john king, ed lavendera are standing by, both at deala plaza watching what is going on. john, ed, the missing man flyover by the air force, i anticipated that would be the concluding moment. did it happen, not happen, was it canceled because of bad weather? do you have a clue? >> we have no official word yet, wolf,a as to why it didn't happen. it's a cold and rainy, pretty dismal day here in dallas. one has to assume it's just not safe to have a low flyover at this moment in the weather. we'll try to get official word. as the ceremony breaks up, a very solemn ceremony, as your previous guests have been talking about, as dallas tries to turn the page and remember. it is worth remembering as people reflect on this day, after this solemn ceremony, you see the crowd leaving.
50 years ago at this moment, this was a scene of chaos. people plfleeing the scene, pole running around trying to investigate. the school book depository across the street, lee harvey oswld had gotten out of the building, but police had gotten out of it, and that's where the president's motorcade went, and we're just a few moments away from 1:00 in dallas. 1:00, of course, when it was announced the president had been administered last rights and had passed. so you saw in reflection today, people starting the history of the moment, a fitting ceremony here in dallas. >> very fitting indeed. ed, they really came up, did a great job. and we're calling the memory of president kennedy today. >> absolutely, and i think as john was mentioning about the chaos that was in this very spot 50 years ago. also, remember, this was about the time police were starting to track down lee harvey oswald,
and dallas police officer jd tippett, killed by lee harvey oswald just a few miles south of where we are. that's about this time that that shooting had taken place. his widow was in the crowd, in the audience, as was clint hill, who you saw in the films trying to climb on the back of the limousine, trying to shield kennedy. one of the big things about today, not only kennedy and his family affected today, but all of the many lives affecting by what happened. >> people all around the states and around the world, affected 50 years ago this hour, this awful, awful tragedy occurred. stand by. that's it for me in this hour. i'm be back 5:00 p.m. in "the situation room." news room continues with brooke baldwin after a quick break. [ man ] hey, brad, want to trade the all-day relief of two aleve for six tylenol? what's the catch? there's no catch. you want me to give up my two aleve for six tylenol?
it is a special friday. i'm brooke baldwin. because 50 years ago today, the nation suffered one of the most heartbreaking yet unifying events in modern history. the assassination of president john f. kennedy. the 35th president was in the oval office for a mere 1,000 days. but in that short time, his camelot captivated the country. a wall